Numbers Page 71

Mated. She heard him say it. ’’You\ e going to claim me as your mate?’’

His mouth compressed into a tight line.

’’That\s okay with me. I want that.’’

His lips twitched upward a little before he opened his mouth. ’’You\ e mine, Candi.’’

They were the sweetest words she\d heard him say since she realized he still lived. ’’You\ e mine too.’’

’’I\m going to make that call. Rest. You can\ gain weight if you\ e using up all your energy. I\ll return to you soon and I\ll keep you warm until you\ e hungry.’’

She smiled.

Hero stood, pulling his hand away from her hair. He snagged his cell phone off the table next to the bed and left. He did keep the bedroom door cracked open. She lay down and curled into a ball. She couldn\ wait for him to return, to feel him wrapped around her the way he used to do all those years ago in their cell.

She\d missed him. Part of her still feared going to sleep, terrified she\d wake inside her room at the asylum. Some of the drugs they\d forced into her body had caused very realistic dreams and hallucinations. She pressed her nose against 927\s pillow and found his scent. It helped her relax.

Tammy took the news of his secret really well, even understanding his reaction when he learned Candi was still alive, sympathizing with the guilt that came with it.

’’The important part is that you got a second chance,’’ she stated. ’’Any mistakes you made in the past don\ matter. What does are the things you do from this moment forward. You have her back, Hero. This Candi is the woman you\ve always loved and wished you had a future with. Grab hold, my friend. This is your chance at happiness.’’

’’I\m flawed,’’ he admitted.

’’Aren\ we all?’’ Tammy snorted. ’’Nobody is perfect. You\ e Species. I might be biased because of how much I love Valiant, but you guys make amazing mates. You\ll meet her needs and you\ll do whatever you can to make certain she\s happy. That\s the best thing you can do for her, Hero. She\s survived pure hell so now you get to show her all the wonderful things about life.’’

’’I\m worried about her. She\s so frail.’’

’’Chocolate is the answer. I look at it and gain five pounds. See if she likes bacon cheeseburgers too, and French fries. Add in some ranch dressing for dipping and she\ll have some cushion around those bones in no time. Pretty much go on the internet and find foods that they say not to eat while dieting and feed them to her.’’

’’I can do that.’’

’’I know you can. Get some of the human mates involved. They\ll help you out on what to feed her and how to cook it.’’

’’I was considering bringing her to Reservation. I trust you to help me care for her.’’

Tammy hesitated. ’’I think it would be better if you keep her at Homeland for now. After telling me how those assholes kept her on drugs for so many years, she needs to be near Medical. Trisha is an amazing doctor and she\s there right now. Besides, there are some excellent hospitals near Homeland in case she needs a specialist. Trisha can have them consult with her and that\s easier to do if they can actually check your Candi out themselves. That means taking her to them. Flying back and forth would be tough if she does end up having some health issues. I want your Candi to have the best medical care, and I know you want that too.’’

’’I do, but I\m concerned I won\ be able to care for her the way she needs.’’

’’You\ll do fine. Old Doc Harris doesn\ have the best bedside manner, and he\s on duty here. Do I need to say more to convince you?’’

’’No. I\d have to hit him if he upset her.’’

Tammy laughed. ’’He\s a good doctor but yeah, he needs a lot of work on the things that come out of his mouth. He blurts out whatever comes to mind. I think she\ll feel more secure having so many Species living in the dorm too, after what she\s been through. Exposing her to the Wild Zone residents might be something you want to do at a later date. You know how some of them are less than social. It took them a while to warm up to me because I\m human. They might see her that way instead of as a Species.’’

’’She\s one of us. So are you.’’

’’I know that. Some of the Wilds really hate humans though. They had it far worse than other Species. Valiant tells me stories about how he was treated while at Mercile that makes me want to kill people too. They kept him in a lion cage and the staff would stare at him like some circus attraction. Get her stronger before you bring her to Reservation. You want your scent stamped all over her. It helps them accept us if we smell just like our mates.’’

He hung up with Tammy and felt better about everything. That was what good friends could do. She\d seen him at his worst when she\d been kidnapped and locked up with him. Her faith that he could become a good mate to Candi helped with some of his insecurities.

Hero returned to his room. The sight of Candi sleeping in his bed felt right. He bent down and removed his shoes. He\d dreamed about holding her again. It had been hell when they\d taken her away from him. She had been as much a part of him as one of his limbs. He stripped out of his torn shirt and even removed his pants, but put on a pair of boxers.

He managed not to wake her as he curled up against her back and wrapped his arm around her waist. Her steady, slow breathing assured him she wasn\ having bad dreams. There had been plenty of times as children when nightmares had plagued her. She\d witnessed her mother\s death at the hands of her own father. She\d loved the woman who\d given birth to her, always sharing stories of love and laughter.

He loved Candi. His life had been lonely until she\d arrived inside his cell. He hadn\ believed until then that he could learn to trust anyone fully human. She\d been nothing like the technicians. Even knowing Dr. C was her father hadn\ dissuaded him from forming a deep bond with her. Now here she was, alive and where she belonged.

He lowered his chin to rest against the top of Candi\s head, her small body molded to his front. He no longer wished to run from his feelings or her, and would make sure it worked out between them. This was their new beginning. She hadn\ been freed when he had been, but unlike him, she wouldn\ have to navigate that new life mostly on her own. Friends were great and he appreciated them, but a mate was someone to spend the rest of his life sharing every moment with. There was no question that Candi was his. She\d always been his.

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